The accessibility, of lack thereof, to Salterstown Pier for emergency service vehicles such as ambulances is putting lives at risk – while the Sinn Féin councillor Pearse McGeough says speeding on road causes a danger to pedestrians using the facility.
The popular swimming location has been busier than usual over the summer months as many families have stayed closer to home for the summer activities, while staycation-ing visitors from across the country have been traversing the coastline taking in swimming spots.
Cllr McGeough tabled a motion at Thursday’s meeting of the Ardee Municipal District calling on the council to initiate a traffic management plan for the area around Salterstown Pier, the popular swimming location.
‘During the summer months this area is a hotspot for many who take advantage of the area’s amenities but the narrow road is entirely unsuitable for the volume and in some cases the speed poses a health and safety issue for pedestrians,’ his motion read.
In a written response, Louth County Council Director of Services for Operations Catherine Duff said; “Our records indicate that there are no recorded accidents on the LS 6218 Salterstown Pier road.
‘At peak times of high tides when swimmers congregate in this area, the parking along the seafront effectively reduces the width of the road and forces the passing traffic to reduce their speed to a “crawl” speed. To widen the road would actually have a detrimental effect as it would allow this traffic speed to increase.’
‘The one-way system requested on this section would have to be applied as a permanent one-way system which would also required to be adhered to by the residents on this roadway which may cause issues if said residents do not comply with the one way system and ultimately create a major traffic safety hazard.’
Cllr McGeough said he noted the response but said that there being no prior accidents at the Pier was no reason to dismiss the problem.
He told the meeting it was “an extremely important leisure facility for people all across the county. The connecting road to the pier is a narrow road and it doesn’t fit the purpose intended. You could have 70 to 100 cars there.”
“The reason I put the motion in is to try and prevent accidents. If for example, there was an accident the emergency tenders and ambulances wouldn’t get access. The only way you’d get somebody in if there was a serious emergency is by helicopter.
Fine Gael councillor Colm Markey supported the motion and highlighted Port Beach as another area in need of attention in terms of emergency access. “An ambulance wouldn’t have within a mile of Port Beach on one of the days on the recent Bank Holiday,” he said. “Typically, ambulances will come from the Clogherhead end and can’t get to it.
“There were traffic jams 20 minutes long recently. Where would an ambulance be in that?”
“There’s pull in-sections amongst most of the coastal lines, but not in Salterstown,” Cllr Jim Tenanty said. “More people are going out and visiting areas of Louth they didn’t before. Let’s keep it that way. Let’s facilitate them.”
Cllr Dolores Minogue said; “The residents have to agree. We can’t go in and smash the place up. The safest thing for an ambulance would be a car park and leave the road open.”
Cathaoirleach of Ardee Municipal District John Sheridan said that, in theory, the Clogherhead lifeboat would reach Salterstown quicker than any emergency services arriving via road. Cllr Sheridan suggested a circular, one-way route around the Salterstown area could be advised to visitors, rather than applied with a by-law.
“Ironically, that is a good thing because it forces cars to slow down. Being narrow is still a positive thing. An ambulance might not be able to travel with speed, but I don’t think it would be prevented,” Senior Executive Engineer Declan McMahon said. He added that a circular route could be looked at but he admitted it would be unlikely to be enforced.